The naval version of the Dassault Rafale fighter jet, the Rafale M, will soon be put to the test in India. The aircraft will have to prove its ability to take off by ski-jumping off a ramp.
This technique, called Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR), is in force in the Indian Navy. Both the INS Vikramaditya (former Soviet Admiral Gorshkov) and the upcoming INS Vikrant, an indigenous carrier to be commissioned in 2022, use a STOBAR system.
The Indian Naval Air Arm currently operates a fleet of over 40 MiG-29K fighter aircraft. To replace the aging fleet, the Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters (MRCBF) program was established, with plans to acquire 57 carrier-capable fighter jets.
India is currently evaluating the performance of the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, and the naval version of the Dassault Rafale, whose standard variant is already operating with the Indian Air Force. Carriers of both the French Navy and the US Navy use a flat deck and a catapult launch system (CATOBAR) instead.
In December 2020, the Super Hornet successfully demonstrated its ability to take off by ski-jumping at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in the state of Maryland, United States. The test was witnessed by representatives of the Indian embassy in the US.
Unlike its competitor, the Rafale’s test will take place in India, at the INS Hansa shore-based test facility in Goa, in early 2022.